Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The funniest obit you will read today

Via Twitter, a very funny obituary:
Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, "generally well-lived and with few regrets." When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that "your father is a very sick man," in unison they replied, "you have no idea." 
I noticed this interesting line:
Joe was a self-taught chemist and worked at Cheeseborough-Ponds* where he developed one of their first cosmetics' lines.
I imagine that the number of employed 'self-taught chemists' has fallen quite a bit over the years in the United States. It would be interesting to know the number of production operators and technicians that have moved into research, formulation and testing laboratories in the American chemical manufacturing industry, and what the overall trend has been. Having worked with a couple of these folks, I value their experience, but I suspect their numbers are few and far between these days.

Rest in peace, Mr. Heller. (If you haven't had a chance, read the obituary - it's genuinely funny and warm-hearted in a way that I aspire my own obituary (and life) to achieve.)

*context here


  1. What put an end to self-taught chemists was the glut of chemistry grads. Lab technician jobs that used to be a reward for a good plant employee are now filled with new B.S. grads, who used get hired in at the scientist level. A job that used to be interesting and challenging for someone without a chemistry background is now mind-numbing boredom for someone with a B.S. At my last job, we used to fill QC tech jobs with promoted plant employees, and when my grandboss insisted we hire someone with a chemistry degree, the guy was bored out of his skull and quit in about four months.

    When I worked for an old-school big chemical company, I worked with some people who had taken interesting paths to scientist jobs. I knew someone who started as a security guard at a plant, someone who started as a secretary, and someone who started as a mechanic in an engine lab that tested oil additives - all of these people were promoted to technician and then full scientist with just high school diplomas. One of my early bosses went from technician to scientist to senior scientist (4-year degree, but not in chemistry).

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